President Muhammadu Buhari laid the 2020 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday without hitches.
Buhari gets soft landing under Lawan, Gbajabiamila
It was not so when he presented the 2019 budget before the federal parliament in 2018. The clash between members of the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party had marred President’s presentation of the 2019 Appropriation Bill.
Efforts to persuade the PDP lawmakers, especially those in the House of Representatives, not to disrupt the presentation earlier before the President’s arrival had proved abortive.
Buhari, who was displeased with the development, was forced to say, “The world is watching us and we are supposed to be above this.”
The then President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, were members of the opposition PDP. The party also had a significant membership of both chambers of the National Assembly.
Now, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, are of the ruling All Progressives Congress, who have also vowed to support the Buhari-led administration as much as they can.
When Buhari had a cold due to hard work
President Buhari began his budget presentation speech by urging the audience to pardon his voice as he had a cold, which he attributed to hard work.
“I will start by asking you to pardon my voice. As you can hear (my voice), I have a cold as a result of working hard,” he said.
The comment attracted loud laughter and applause from all those inside the chamber, including the President of the Senate, the Speaker, members of the National Assembly, state governors, members of the Federal Executive Council and leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, among others.
Gbajabiamila, who made the closing remarks, replied Buhari while sympathising with the President.
“I’m deeply sorry about your cold, Mr President, brought about by the hard work of your good self,” the Speaker said, which generated another round of applause.
Between Buhari and Melaye
The lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaye, is known for being vocal and as a member of the opposition PDP, he has been critical of the Buhari-led administration and the APC government.
When President of the Senate appointed Melaye as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, it shocked some Nigerians.
However, as Buhari was heading out of the House chamber after the budget presentation, Melaye was one of those that stood along the isle to greet the President. The senator gave Buhari a clenched fist greeting, which the President had also given to the audience.
Buhari and Melaye exchanged pleasantries, details of which had not been known as of the time this report was filed. A photo of the moment, however, went viral on the Internet shortly after.
National Assemby’s workers turned back
Security in and around the National Assembly Complex was already tight long before the arrival of the President for the budget presentation.
Men of the Department of State Services, Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and Sergeant-at-arms manned all entry points to restrict access into the premises.
Apart from lawmakers and those accompanying the President, only accredited workers and journalists were allowed in. Names were checked on a list of persons per department and organisation, provided by the management.
Banks and other businesses were closed for the event, while many workers and guests without accreditation tags were turned back at the gates.
The security became more tightened few hours to the arrival of the President, when the Presidential Guards Brigade and Special Forces took over the operations, with movements in the building restricted to outer layers of the chambers.